There are many things in life we don’t seem to have control over in any given moment. These can be emotions that arise, things happening to us in our job or family situation, or how people react to us. How we naturally turn to fight these things, we inevitably end up feeling frustrated or upset which triggers us into some form of escape or avoidance (e.g., substance abuse). How can we be more skillful?

It’s important to acknowledge that we can’t control all things that come at us. Life just seems to happen sometimes. However, we can start cultivating a radically new relationship toward these automatic unwanted feelings that arise so we don’t amplify the situation and instead lend our experience toward more peace and calm that make for more effective actions.

“Letting be” is a key phrase I often use with people when it comes to difficult feelings and experiences. This implies an acknowledgement of what is happening and an “allowing” instead of “fighting against.”  This attitude is important in taking care of ourselves and enabling us to see what we really need in that moment more clearly. This may not be easy, but it’s a critical practice.

Try: One way to practice accepting difficult feelings is through the body where they often arise. Doing gentle stretching or yoga is a way to experience this while also being kind to your body at the same time. In doing these practices, you will undoubtedly feel some form of burning sensation (may be pleasant or unpleasant or both). When doing these practices, allow this feeling to be and even begin to breathe into it. You might say to yourself, “breathing into this feeling, I soften it, breathing out, I open to it.” Always knowing and respecting your limits when doing this. If you want professional support with this, check out a beginner’s yoga class in your area. This gives you the intimate experience of approaching, instead of avoiding, difficult feelings, and being able to manage yourself through it.

When unwanted feelings arise in daily life, you can turn your attention to it in the same way you did with the yoga practice. From this space you can then ask yourself, “What is the best way to take care of myself right now?” This will more often lead to skillful action.

What are some ways that you manage difficult feelings that would often lead to escape or avoidance? Please share your thoughts, questions, and stories below. Your interactions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.